Can you remember a time in your life where you were at the top of your game?
And then, without knowing, the motivation leaves and you are left apathetic, distracted, and trying to get find “it” again?
I’ve experienced this — as I think most have.
We can take a lesson from physics:
The second law of thermodynamics states that everything in our universe, when left to itself, trends toward disorder.
Everything includes you and me. That is why, when we leave our lives to chance, we can expect to continue to slip back into old habits and behaviors, leaving us feeling unmotivated.
For us to perform and live life at the highest level it is important to learn to develop practices and routines that maintain our energy.
Here are five ways to fight back our tendency toward disorder and consistently move toward who we want to be and what we want to create .
Start with Why
“Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.” — Simon Sinek
One of my favorite Ted Talks is Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. It applies to not just business, but all of life.
When we learn to start with why we can attach meaning to the what and how.
Why we do what we do is an energy source that propels us through the obstacles we encounter.
- Do you know why you are doing what you are doing?
- How does it serve you, those you love, and humanity?
The what is least important compared to knowing why and understanding its impact on others.
When we begin to gain clarity to our why we fuel our motivation.
Everyone benefits when we get clear on our why.
Determine the Critical Few
“Figuring out what you are supposed to produce, and learning the priorities in the creation, quality, and frequency of that output is one of the greatest breakthroughs you can have in your career.” — Brendon Burchard
There are so many things we could spend our time doing, and thinking about it all leaves us overwelmed.
If you want to kill motivation and suck the energy out of your life, then go be overwhelmed — we choose this state after all.
We can’t keep saying YES to everything.
As we get clear on our why—aligning it with our values and what’s most meaningful to us — we get to choose the critical few actions we believe will take us toward our goals.
As the Pareto Principle states: eighty percent of our impact comes from twenty percent of our efforts.
Results don’t happen when you achieve “inbox zero” or responding to everyone else’s emergency.
Results come from flat out creating the results you want to see.
It’s creativity, not busyness and responsiveness that accomplishes goals.
Art Turock, a business coach that applies practices found in professional sports to the business world, asks this question:
“What are the automatic efficiency measures or low-priority tasks that I use to escape facing a challenging task where my competence is sure to be tested?”
When you get clear on your why and decide on the critical few you’ll start to experience progress that leads to momentum that sustains motivation.
The right action leads toward progress, and progress sustains motivation. What are your critical few actions that will create the swiftest progress toward your goal?
Focus on Your Next Step
“We are kept from our goal, not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” — Robert Braul
We focus so much on our big dream, going for the quantum leap, and end up nowhere fast.
We overcomplicate things. It’s as simple as taking our next step — no more, no less.
Remove overwhelm and sustain your motivation by focusing on — and only on — your next step.
In his book, The ONE Thing, Gary Keller encourages us to ask, “What’s the ONE Thing I could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?”
Whatever it is, determine your next step. Make it clear, actionable, and define done. If we don’t define the outcome, then we tend to work on one task longer then we should.
Your next step must be simple and immediate. The more we can break our goals down into small incremental steps the more we can see the path to achieving them.
Find Time for Renewal and Re-Centering
“But so long as you are busy bailing water, you can’t navigate towards a destination.” — Tony Schwartz
The ritual of re-centering on our values, purpose, and goals; as well as, renewing our minds, bodies, and spirits is key to sustaining motivation.
Most people do this as a new year’s resolution. They sit down once a year to reflect and look ahead.
Because we tend toward disorder it is only a matter of weeks before we slip back into our old habits of coasting through our day — before we know it the year is over.
Here is what I’ve found that helps me stay on course:
- Reflect on your values — to sustain motivation let your values be our guide. Look at them every week and then reflect on how you spent your money, time, and attention this past week. Did it align with your values? If not, then what could you do to move back toward what you want most?
- Maintain balance — Life balance is an interesting topic. I don’t view balance as static. Rather, it fluctuates. If we are pursuing all that life has for us, we are never “balanced”. Instead, we are in a constant state of flux. We need to know what’s important to us and adjust on the fly. It more like spinning plates then balancing a scale. Take inventory of the key areas of your life (i.e. Finances, Health, Faith, Family, Relationships, Hobbies). Give yourself a score in each of these areas. This gives us perspective on where we might be sacrificing certain areas of our lives too much. Make adjustments and focus on your next step.
- Set your intentions — This can be a 15–minute or less process. Reflect on the above and then set your course for the week ahead. Write key words and thoughts on who you want to be this week, how do you want to feel, and how do you want others to feel. Prioritize those areas where you’re less satisfied with your progress. Write down your “next step” and commit to them in the days ahead.
“The best way to win is to make it a by-product of the process.” — Coach Dean Smith
Learn to enjoy the process because the outcomes are fleeting. Many of the great coaches (John Wooden, Bill Walsh, Pete Carroll, and Nick Saban) expend more energy on the process of winning than they do on the outcome.
Motivation comes and goes. Start with why, determine your critical few, focus on your next step, and find time to re-center yourself on your values and purpose.
These are the ingredients that will help you sustain motivation over long periods of times so that you can go achieve what you want most.
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Originally published at medium.com